Thursday, October 14, 2021

Keri Hoadley, assistant professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa, recently won a $99,880 award from the California Institute of Technology to continue her work on the Faint Intergalactic-medium Redshifted Emission Balloon (FIREBall-2) mission.

FIREBall-2 is a suborbital balloon telescope designed to discover and map pristine gas emissions, observing a component of galaxies that plays a key role in how galaxies form and evolve. The instruments detect the gas outside of galaxies at a time in the universe when galaxies appear to form stars at a slower pace than they had in the past. The mission observes more than 200 galaxies in the universe to increase chances of observing this extremely faint signal.

Caltech is the lead institution for FIREBall-2, which funded by NASA. As a co-investigator, Hoadley has worked on the payload for its 2022 flight since 2019, outlining the tasks and schedules, monitoring the budget, handling issues that arise, mentoring early career team members, and other responsibilities to successfully execute the mission. This subaward will allow to continue her work and provide support to a UI astronomy graduate student to lead in one of FIREBall’s flight-critical systems and gain hands-on spaceflight experience by working with a NASA flight program.

Hoadley has run suborbital, space-based missions since her second year as a graduate student and is using her experience in UV spectroscopy to continue studying diffuse atoms and molecules found throughout the universe to increase understanding of how galaxies, stars, and planets form.

Photos from a previous FIREBall-2 launch in Ft. Sumner, NM.

fireball launch
Credit: Philippe Balard (LAM)
Credit: Etienne Perot (CNES).
FIREBall moon
Credit: Mouser Williams